Grilling a meal to eat outside is summer's greatest pleasure, and these days I am reluctant to head back inside for dinner.
A grilled steak salad with charred red peppers and local shell beans from the farmers market seems made for these end-of-the-season nights. The combination of juicy beef, creamy white beans and smoky charred peppers with a piquant dressing just never gets old.
In this salad, the marinade doubles as a vinaigrette for the other components. It's also a good choice to have on hand for basting grilled or roast chicken or lamb, seasoning whole grain and pasta salads, or simply tossing with dark greens.
Grilling might be the best way to cook a flank steak, but it can be easy to overcook the meat. It's important to be sure the grill is plenty hot to give the meat a good, crisp char. This cut should be cooked rare and then thinly sliced against the grain. The slices will be tender and yield plenty of juices to mingle with the peppers and beans, adding another layer of flavor to the entire dish.
Flank steak is a brawny cut, with a chewy texture and mineral taste, but rib-eye, skirt steak and sirloin will also work well if you adjust the cooking time to the thickness of the steak. Just be sure to grill more than you think you want. Leftovers are terrific in sandwiches and tacos, a big reward for such little work.
Grilled Flank Steak Salad
Note: You can substitute rib-eye, skirt steak or sirloin for the flank steak, but adjust the cooking time to account for the difference in thickness. From Beth Dooley.
• 2 garlic cloves, sliced
• 1 tbsp. fresh rosemary leaves
• 2 tbsp. whole-grain mustard
• 1/2 c. balsamic vinegar
• 1 c. extra-virgin olive oil
• Salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 1 (1 1/2-lb.) flank steak (see Note)
• 1 c. fresh white or cannellini beans, picked through
• 2 red peppers, cored and cut into 2-in. slices
For the marinade: In a blender, process together the garlic, rosemary, mustard and vinegar until the garlic is minced. Keep the machine running and gradually add the oil and blend until it's very creamy. Season lightly with salt and pepper.
Put the meat into a glass or ceramic baking dish and pour in enough of the vinaigrette to generously cover the meat. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.
Pour the remaining vinaigrette into a glass jar with a lid and store in the refrigerator until ready to use.
To cook the white beans: Put the beans into a pot and add enough water to cover the beans by 4 inches. Either soak overnight, or for a quick soak, set the pot over high heat and bring to a boil. Turn off the heat and allow the beans to soak for at least 1 hour.
Once the beans have soaked, drain them. Return beans to the pot and add enough water to cover the beans by 4 inches. Set over high heat, bring to a boil, reduce the heat, cover, and simmer the beans until tender, about 45 minutes to 1 hour (depending on the age of the beans — older beans take longer to cook). Allow to cool in the cooking liquid, then drain the beans and set aside until ready to use.
To grill the steak and compose the salad: Heat the grill to medium high or heat the broiler. Grill or broil the flank steak with the peppers about 2 to 4 minutes per side, basting both the peppers and the steak with a little of the marinade.
Transfer the steak to a plate and let it rest for about 5 minutes. Thinly slice the meat against the grain, saving the juices.
Arrange the sliced steak with the juices, cooked beans and the charred red peppers on a serving platter. Drizzle with the reserved vinaigrette. Serve at room temperature.
Beth Dooley is the author of "In Winter's Kitchen." Find her at bethdooleyskitchen.com.